In Northern Germany, too, the influential New Architecture movement left its mark. The Jarrestadt estate in Hamburg, for instance, is still regarded as one of the most ambitious projects in reform housing of the early 20th century. In 1926, Karl Schneider won a competition for the construction of around 34,000 dwelling units – an endeavour that also involved many other renowned architects, including Friedrich Ostermeyer, Reimund Frank and Fritz Höger. Hence, the Jarrestadt estate is above all one thing: a joint work. Between 1926 and 1930, under the oversight of Hamburg’s chief building director, Fritz Schumacher, it took on the uniform character that it still exhibits today.
A variety of four- to six-storey housing blocks and linear buildings were built using dark red, double-fired clinker brick. The general impression of the development is one of being sober, uniform and characterised by clear lines. Variations – such as changes in material and colour due to different batches of fired bricks, for example, or projections and recesses in the façades – are nevertheless evident, due in part to the situation of having many architects involved in the project. The estate was conceived chiefly of 2.5-room flats with 50 to 60 m² of living space. The modern amenities, which included central heating and hot water, guaranteed an unusually high level of comfort for the time. A central green corridor and various park spaces also contributed to the novel living concept.
Its proximity to Hamburg’s city park and to a nearby industrial area meant the Jarrestadt estate was strategically well located for its target group of working-class tenants. For more than this reason alone, the development is a prime example of the housing reform efforts of the Weimar Republic, particularly from an urban planning perspective. Fritz Schumacher shaped the cityscape of Hamburg with various social housing projects during his tenure as chief building director. He intelligently and innovatively adapted the plans for the Jarrestadt estate to the rapid social and economic changes in the city.
Large parts of the estate were destroyed in the Second World War, but these were quickly rebuilt according to original plans. Due to its extremely valuable architectural character, the Jarrestadt estate – whose dwellings are still very much in demand today – is protected by ordinance as a heritage conservation area and distinguished by many individual historic monuments. [KM/DK]
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